On August 10th, Northrop Grumman plans to launch its 16th commerical resupply service mission. As the name suggests, the Cygnus spacecraft will be carrying crew supplies, scientific research, and hardware to the orbiting laboratory. As part of this mission, supplies will be sent will be scientific experiments to add to the various studies conducted in the past 20 years at the orbiting lab. One of these will be the Redwire Regolith Print (RRP) study, which will involve 3D printing loose rock and soil (regolith) on the international space station (ISS) to determine whether it can be used for on-demand construction of habitats.
According to Michael Snyder, chief technology officer at Redwire, this will be the first time that the Additive Manufacturing Facilitiy (AMF) in the ISS will be used to test a manufacturing technique itself and not just a part. As part of the experiment, a new build plate and extrusion will be installed in the manufacturing facility and researchers will be printing specimens, notably plates, which will be ultimately be brought down to Earth for testing. The goal is to ultimately figure out if there is a difference between 0g and 1g, helping them to understand if it will be necessary to incorporate design tolerances.